Sunday, September 25, 2011

brocolli from aquaponics system

Apart from lots of Kale at present we have several brocolli  heads ready in some grow beds
This one is for  married daughter and her family :

Diameter is  22cm

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mt Petrie wildflowers

This time of year there are lots of different wild flowers to be seen during my walk/exercise in the Mt Petrie Koala Reserve.  This patch of bush is quite varied in the native plant species - most of which I cannot identify.  Here's one that I am reasonably confident with although the photo does not do the plant justice:

ID:  Platylobium formosum   or  flat pea

There are lots of other flowers at present and a walk through this patch of bush  is a delight.
Although I have explored this patch of bush for many years I found this old car wreck a week or so ago:

I'm not sure what variety of car/4wd it was.  

Plenty of flowers out in our yard as well:

This is Bauhina alba.  The Bauhina purpurea is also in bloom

Friday, September 16, 2011

Humpy recreation

Another garden item that I constructed recently is a "humpy".   This word is used to describe the Aboriginal dwellings in the bush and does have some negative connations. This is not my intention. I have a lot of respect for the Aboriginal people -  their land use, their art and culture and social structures.  A highlight for me a few months ago was to visit the Kimberley region to see the Bradshaw figures and Wandjina  rock art.
Construction was simply to use a sheet of concrete reinforcing steel bent into an arch to make the frame and then palm fronds, sticks, branches etc applied.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Growing plants from cuttings and Native Raspberries

At the last Tamborine Sustainable Garden Club meeting there was a presentation on growing plants from cuttings. Here is what I learned:

1. Take the cutting from the section of the plant where the colour of the stem changes and it is flexible but not "floppy".  Cut more than is required and trim later to about 100-150mm lengths.
2. Collect early in the morning and put straight into a plastic bag.
3. Cuttings will keep for a few days if stored in the fridge.
4. If wrapped in moist newspaper they can be sent by mail
5. Just below a node is the most active region for plant hormones. Don't bother with rooting compounds.
6. Mix for growing = 1/3 coarse sand, 1/3 moistened coco peat, 1/3 moistened perlite.  Use more peat in summer for extra moisture retention.
7. Container - large pot = community pot  for 10+ cuttings or use tubes.
8. Cut just below a node  and remove most leaves and reduce any large leaves.
9. Place tubes in a foam box with some ventilation  and cover with glass.
10. Mist spray leaves twice daily.
11. Cuttings take in average 6-8 weeks before rooting  - some natives a lot longer.

I have done  30 odd cuttings of natives from my yard especially of species I want more off such as Grevillias.  I have tried to grow cuttings of natives before with limited success so I hope to have a better strike rate this time.

Here's a photo of some of our native raspberries - Rubus rosifolius. Taste wise they are ok  and the plant is growing really well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

swimming pool decommissioning- update

Here's an update on one of my most popular blog posts from 24/7/2010 ( you can easily search for it by entering "decommissioning a swimming pool" in the search box  top left). The tarp that I used had two problems - the first was rain water collecting in various parts
and needing to be squeegeed off -  a bit of a fag but I didn't mind doing it. The second was that the tarp started to deteriorate in the sun and develop tears. 
So I replaced it with 70% shade cloth -  this was a lot easier to stretch tight as well  and should also  last quite well.  This amount of shade should be enough to prevent any algal growth. Note that I have left the water in the pool -  it needs to stay in to maintain weight in the pool to prevent any hydrostatic pressure cracking or lifting the pool out of the ground. This happened to one of my poly water tanks awhile ago so I am keen to avoid anything like that. Obviously water will tend to accumulate in the pool from direct rainfall so every now and then I check the skimmer box and  if the level is too high I pump some out onto the garden. Another way would be to set up an overflow pipe from the pipework behind the skimmer box but so far I haven't done that.  I keep checking the salt level as well and when it has dropped right down by dilution from rain I can start to use it for watering the garden  and nearby fruit trees

Overall I have been really happy with the way this has stopped us needing to maintain the pool and has reduced our use of electricity.  It was quite an economic way as well although you do need to be reasonably handy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Aquaponics : replacing diaphragms in aerator

Last year I lost some fish when an aerator failed.  I replaced the whole thing but since have learnt that it is possible to replace the part that fails in them called a diaphragm.
So yesterday I purchased the required parts and proceeded to pull an aerator to bits to have a go at replacing them. 
The aerator  I use in my systems is a brand called "Aqua One"- they have a 4 tube outlet and  I have generally been satisfied with them.  However  after 12 months of constant use the rubber diaphragms develop small tears and the amount of air pumped through the tubes into the water obviously declines or ceases
 The first step was removing 6 screws from the base  -this opened it up where the bits to be replaced became obvious.  Each arm was unclipped to access a small screw/nut holding the rubber diaphragm to it. There are four diaphragms to be replaced in the model I have.

After replacing each diaphragm reassembly was also straightforward.

After checking that it all works ok ,  I have written a date on the side so I remember when I replaced the diaphragms